Is SEO Still Important Today or in the Future?

By Hector E. Cisneros

English: Meta search engine Fran├žais : metamoteur
English: Meta search engine Fran├žais : metamoteur (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
SEO is a term that is bandied about as if it were the holy grail of Search Engine Marketing. But what is SEO really? It is optimizing your website? Or, is it optimizing what you post to your web properties? Is it key word sensitive, key phrase-centric or is it something else altogether? My answer to these questions may surprise you. SEO is no longer just one thing. It's not just optimizing your website for proper Meta tags and matching content. It has grown to mean so much more. In this article, I discuss how Search Engine Optimization (a.d.a., SEO) has evolved into Search Engine Marketing (a.k.a., SEM). I will discuss how what was once a single-faceted injection has evolved into a multifaceted ongoing process. In this article you will find information on how a company can improve its search ranking, specific methods to follow that will insure a strong ranking position. Best of all, you can accomplish all this without resorting to tricks, gimmicks or deception that tries to bypass the search engine ranking systems.

Is it Still Possible to Make Money Online?



English: MOL AccessPortal Offical Logo with Ta...
English: MOL AccessPortal Offical Logo with Tagline Money Online (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The concept of making money online is nothing new.  It’s what drove most of us onto the internet in the first place.  Back in the good old days before Google more or less monopolized search, there were real opportunities to grab the top slots on a number of search engines (some in as little as 24 hours), create an eCommerce site and get to it.  However, the game has changed to the point where there are now more than 300 million websites online with 130,000 new sites being spawned daily.  And they all want to be on page one of Google.  

While you can buy your way into the game with Pay-Per-Click campaigns, many people quickly find out that in many cases generating a click doesn’t mean generating a sale.  As a result you can blow through your advertising budget on any number of search engines, social networks and video portals without turning a profit.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is that there’s more than one way to skin a search engine.  

Other Nontraditional Routes to Search Engine Page One


Websites aren’t the only thing displayed on page one of the world’s most popular search engine.  Videos, blog posts and social posts can also find their way onto the first page for those who know how.  Just as with websites, mixed media can also be optimized, particularly if you employ other Google properties to display your media. 

Got Video?   


YouTube is owned by Google.  When you do a search on Google more often than not you will find a YouTube listing on Page One.  The listing leads to a YouTube video that has been optimized for Google.  While the googlebots can’t view your video, they can see the title, text, backlinks and keywords that wrap the video.  Savvy marketers have been using this for years to jump from YouTube to Google.  Better still is the fact that there will only be one or two videos on any given page and this could actually be more advantageous than having your website on the same page. 

Blogger is Google’s Free Blogging Portal

 
Just as with YouTube, properly optimized blogs can and sometimes do get placed on page one of Google.  Just as with video, the post and title need to be optimized so the bots will deem your post worthy of inclusion on Page One.  It also doesn’t hurt to get your friends and family to read, comment on and re-post your blog posts.  


Blogger.com homepage, nice UI
Blogger.com homepage, nice UI (Photo credit: Lloyd Dewolf)
Then there’s social networks.  While Facebook is currently the world’s most popular social network on the planet, Google+ is the only one owned and operated by guess who?  While some people have referred to G+ as a virtual ghost town, a number of savvy online marketers have used Google’s social network to leverage page one results.  

Being on Page One May Not be Enough to Ensure Financial Success


Sorry to say it but being on page one, even at the top of the page is not enough to ensure success online.  It’s only a starting point.  Due to the fact that there are hundreds of millions of sites, people have become kind of jaded online.  That is to say that unlike a few years ago, most people are not going to take the time to click around your 32 page website to decide whether they should do business with you.  In fact, statistically speaking, you only have on average two minutes to dangle the bait and reel in the fish.  And if your offer isn’t all that appealing, then your results are not going to be anything to write home about.

 This is Why They Call it Online Marketing


ppc-keyword-research-strategies
ppc-keyword-research-strategies (Photo credit: Search Influence)
Once you have satisfied the online side of the equation by generating a highly visible link on a search term that contains a great deal of traffic targeted to your product or service, then it’s time to put on your marketing hat.  More experienced internet marketers won’t even start a campaign until they have tested keywords, offers and results via some sort of pay-per-click campaign.  Spending a few hundred bucks to make sure you are going to succeed before spending months to generate organic results isn’t just a good idea.  It’s the only way to go if you are looking to convert cash to clicks.  It is also the best way to adjust your site’s look, feel and offer to maximize your return.

All too many people still subscribe to the Field of Dreams form of online marketing.  You know, “Build it and they will come.”  While they may come, that doesn’t mean that they will buy.  If they don’t buy, don’t blame the medium, whether search engine, social network or video portal.  Blame your offer.  Unless you have an exclusive way to solve a problem or save people money, this means that there is competition.  Competition is easy to find online, just google it. 

Before You Start


monopoly-e-commerce
monopoly-e-commerce (Photo credit: danielbroche)
Before you start spending time and money constructing a website, shooting video or blogging, you need to see what the competition is offering for similar products or services.  If your product or service costs more and offers less, guess what? You had better start rethinking your concept for a successful launch.  This doesn’t mean that you have to give away the farm to bag sales online.  But you definitely have to offer at least a perceived value that is of equal or greater value than the competition.  As an example, a friend of mine ran a highly successful site for a number of years that sold plants.  The way he beat the competition was not by offering the lowest prices.  Instead he offered the longest guarantee that stated that if his plant died up to two years after the purchase he would replace it at no charge.   He told me that less than one percent of his customers ever took him up on this offer.  As a result he was able to sell five figures worth of plants month in and month out.

Other Partners to Find Online Sales



A number of other successful online merchants have found online gold by partnering up with eBay and/or Amazon.  Especially if your business is retail in nature, either of these two mammoth online sites can give you quick access to a huge user base and simplified eCommerce solutions that are tailor made to jump you from retail to etail in a hurry.  That doesn’t mean that these portals are the best or indeed the only way to get into the game, since they both charge fees for promoting and/or selling your products.  But they are another way to buy into the game.


English: Amazon Kindle wordmark.
English: Amazon Kindle wordmark. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
While there are no guarantees that your online store will make money in the short run, it will most definitely burn less money than a brick and mortar store, since you won’t have to hire more employees, invest in expensive displays and signage, or worry about the landlord doubling the rent.  The bottom line is that if you are serious about breaking out of your local market and selling nationwide, you need to be prepared to spend the time and money to test the water, build your brand and be realistic about your results as you build your online store.  If you can work out the bugs and find a way to turn browsers into buyers, you could find yourself wondering why you didn’t think of this concept years before.  

If you like this article, you can find more by typing “robots” or "artificial intelligence" in the search box at the top left of this blog. If you found this article useful, share it with your friends, families and co-works. If you have a comment related to this article, leave it in the comment sections below.  If you would like a free copy of our book, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century," fill out the form below.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.




Since 1995, Carl Weiss has been helping clients succeed online.  He owns and operates several online marketing businesses, including Working the Web to Win and Jacksonville Video Production. He also co-hosts the weekly radio show, "Working the Web to Win," every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern on BlogTalkRadio.com.


Crowdfunding, it's a Game Changer


By Carl Weiss

Photo Credit: blog.laptopmag.com
Back in the bad-old days, entrepreneurs searching for funding had three choices: 

1. Friends and Family 
2. Banks 
3. Angel and/or Venture Capitalists

For many this meant that starting a business was nearly a mission impossible.  Then in 2007, all that changed when Prosper.com launched the first peer-to-peer lending service in the US.  Since that time a number of other Crowdfunding sites have popped up, including Kickstarter, which in 2012 raised more than $10 million for the Pebble Watch.

Before you decide to quit your day job, understand that not all projects get funded.  Some pitches are flawed, while others are deemed unfundable due to the rules of various Crowdsourcing portals. But for a staggering number of well thought out and executed proposals, the world wide web can your oyster when it comes to jumpstarting a business.  However, as you will soon find out, Crowdfunding comes in a number of different flavors. 

Microloans a Big Deal to Start Ups


Prosper is America's first  microloan marketplace, with more than 1.6 million members and over $400,000,000 in funded loans.  While few banks will offer loans to start ups, sites like prosper connect with the public to form a funding pipeline that offers loans between $2,000 and $25,000 to businesses.  Individuals can invest as little as $25 per selected business.  Both Prosper and the public profit from these microloans and Prosper discloses credit scores and histories as well as servicing the loan on behalf of the matched borrowers and lenders.  You can even invest your IRA funds in Prosper.

While prosper started the microloan revolution here in the US, they are far from alone.  Other microloan sites have sprung up, with names like captap.com, kiva.com, as well as federal (the SBA has a microloan program) and municipal lenders, such as Los Angeles’ microloan.org run under the auspices of the Valley Economic Development Center.  Just like traditional “loans,” microloans require that the borrower pay back the amount borrowed plus interest. 

Kickstarter.com, The Real Gamechanger


Once funded, project creators are not required to pay back the amount raised.  Other than a consideration that can range anywhere from a thank you to actual merchandise, Kickstarter backers do not expect to receive any other compensation.   Sounds great from the creator’s viewpoint, doesn’t it?  But there are a few caveats:

  1. Everything on Kickstarter must be a project. A project has a clear goal, like making an album, a book, or a work of art. A project will eventually be completed, and something will be produced by it.
  2. Kickstarter does not allow charity, cause, or "fund my life" projects. 
  3. Kickstarter cannot be used to fund e-commerce, business, and social networking websites or apps.
  4. Kickstarter cannot be used to buy real estate.
  5. No contests, raffles, coupons, or lifetime memberships.
  6.  No bath, beauty, and cosmetic products; electronic surveillance equipment; eye-wear (sunglasses, prescription glasses, and others); firearms, weapons, knives, weapon accessories, and replicas of weapons; medical, health, safety, and personal care products; or infomercial-type products.


Kickstarter Banner
Kickstarter Banner (Photo credit: kittybabylove)
More importantly. Funding is an all-or-nothing proposition on Kickstarter.  What this means is that if you set your goal at $50,000 and raise $49,999 you get nothing.  On the other hand, if you set the goal at $10,000 and raise $100,000 you get to keep it all.  What Kickstarter gets out of the proposition is 5% of the money raised by successful creators.  Payment is processed via Amazon Payments in the US, from which an additional 3-5% in processing fees is collected.

Hhow Effective has Kickstarter Bbeen?   


Since its launch on April 26, 2009, over a half billion dollars has been raised from more than 3 million individuals which was used to fund more than 35,000 projects.  Furthermore, Kickstarter states that 82% of the projects that have reached 20% of their funding goal were successfully funded. Of the projects that have reached 60% of their funding goal, 98% were successfully funded.

In 2012, Crowdfunding totaled $2.7 billion.  This year it is quite possible that those numbers will double.  The reason that this phenomenon is so popular is due to the fact that it turns funding on its head.  Where in the past entrepreneurs had to go hat in hand from one institution to the next, begging those with deep pockets to fund their project.  With Crowdfunding, the success of raising money for your idea (project) is based on it’s perceived merits. Instead of trying to raise $50,000 from a bank or angel investor, it is now possible to raise the same amount of money from thousands of individual sources, a few dollars at a time.  It’s all about being able to wow the crowd.


What's it Take to Get Funded?



Crowd Funding
Creating a successful proposal isn’t like writing a business plan.  Funders aren’t going to pore over your projections.  They want to see what you are bringing to the world, how capable you are of running your company and can you deliver on your promise.  Therefore, you will need to provide drawings, videos and even animation that show what your product does and a compelling reason why it should be funded.  The best way to get a bead on what works is to peruse Kickstarter, Indiegogo and RocketHub, along with other Crowdfunding sites. Review projects similar to what your trying to do that have been funded.

What is considered fundable?  Everything from music cds to inventions, games, medical devices, books, comics and even publishing houses have been funded.  There are even several space-based projects currently being shopped around, (including a moon-base and a space telescope).  So, with the number of Crowdfunding sites growing by leaps and bounds, this is now literally an industry where the sky is the limit.

In this article, I discussed the evolution of Crowdfunding. I have listed, summarized many of the features and benefits of several Crowdfunding sources and I have explained how KickStarter.com and other sites have turned the world of raising investment capital on its head. If you enjoyed this article, pass it on to your friends. If you have a comment, share it in the comment section, and please do not hesitate to post it to your social nets.

If you like this article, you can find more by typing “crowdfunding" in the search box at the top left of this blog. If you found this article useful, share it with your friends, families and co-works. If you have a comment related to this article, leave it in the comment sections below.  If you would like a free copy of our book, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century," fill out the form below.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.




Since 1995, Carl Weiss has been helping clients succeed online.  He owns and operates several online marketing businesses, including Working the Web to Win and Jacksonville Video Production. He also co-hosts the weekly radio show, "Working the Web to Win," every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern on BlogTalkRadio.com.